Staying with the Program 4/05

April 2005

The gyms are spacious again. January’s good intentions have slipped to fuzzy memory status in barely three months’ time. Why, why, why can’t we seem to stick with the program? Why is it so difficult to follow through with our goals, particularly when it comes to getting fit and losing weight?

We know that obesity will soon be the leading, preventable cause of death. We also know that physical activity is the closest thing to a magic pill. It has many tremendous side effects and no downside – yet we struggle.

Several hundred books have been written that claim to give us the easy answer. I have some ideas of my own, not quite enough to fill a book – yet. However, there is nothing easy about it.

Case in point, while I write this I’m reading about a study of 2,000 women that says middle aged women under stress are more likely to gain weight. While under stress, the body tries to hold on to fat. Great! And being fat just makes us more stressed. So the cycle goes. Have you noticed the older we get the harder it is to take off the pounds and the more likely they are to creep on?

There’s more. Our world is not exactly geared to help us lead a healthy lifestyle. Here’s why:

  • We live in a culture that values overtime more than life balance. As a result we’re stressed out and, well, unbalanced.
  • The advancement of technology has created a sedentary society who spend a great deal of time sitting and clicking.
  • Food is everywhere you go and many people rarely eat at home, effectively giving up control of what they consume.
  • Our health care system is reactive, treating symptoms and illness and doing considerably less in the way of education or prevention.
  • Manufactured foods fill the stores, and for some people that is all they know.

Despite all our good intentions about losing weight in January, something else always comes up by February or March. What was important now takes the back seat to something that is urgent. You know, the squeaky wheel. As the novelty of the program fades we start listening for every squeaky wheel within miles.

In order to succeed at our fitness goals we need to be effective on a regular basis, not just during the month of January. It’s no different than every other aspect of our lives. If we want to be the fit and healthy, silver-haired senior with golf club in hand, it would be a really good idea to start working towards fit and healthy in our youth or mid-life. Much like the financial retirement plan, the sooner we start to invest the greater the dividends in the future.

Obviously, there are a few things working against us. We can beat the odds by setting ourselves up for success.

Understand your priorities and live by them. What is really important to you? It’s much easier to say no to what doesn’t fit or what you don’t want when you know your priorities.

Simplify your life to make room for new goals and commitments. You want to be doing things that reflect your priorities. Eliminate things that are no longer necessary, no longer serve you, no longer give you joy or you are no longer willing to do. If you don’t have time to cook, simplify your life so that you do or get someone to cook for you – and I don’t mean Taco Bell.

We often tackle a new challenge or goal without preparing ourselves or making room for it. If your life is in the fast lane, a weight and wellness program is just something else to fit into your chaotic life. You might not have the energy to sustain a program for any length of time if you don’t do the foundation work first. You’ll be listening for the squeaky wheel.

Is that all there is to it? Of course not. To get the full story you’ll have to wait for my book. In the meanwhile, I challenge you to make a commitment to “get with the program.” Don’t let the roadblocks sabotage your success. Plan your detour in advance. The gateway to better health begins with active living and conscious consumption.

As Janis Joplin said, “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”